BOZEMAN — It's just days away from the 120th Brawl of the Wild as the No. 3 Montana State Bobcats (9-1) travel up to Missoula to play the No. 7 Montana Grizzlies (7-2).
“I suspected all along there would be some other things on the line as well, so to sit here at the last regular season game of the season we have the Great Divide Trophy on the line, a conference championship, certainly seeding in the playoffs in front of us as well," said MSU head coach Brent Vigen. "It’s right where we want to be.”
For Vigen and his coaching staff, the Brawl of the Wild takes place everyday, not just one Saturday a year.
“It’s not just this one Saturday in November," said the head coach. "It’s an everyday of the year affair when you talk about recruiting and all that goes into trying to gain the edge across the state. It ultimately plays out on Saturday, but it is something that occurs in our mind everyday.”
Vigen knows that one of the biggest expectations when he took the job back in February was to win this game. His predecessor Jeff Choate went a perfect 4-0 before departing the program.
“I knew coming here that there were expectations on a lot of different levels and this was the first one I know that was mentioned, If not everyday, almost everyday since I’ve been here,” he said.
With an offense that has had their troubles of late, they face the tough task of going against a very good Griz defense.
“They’re a very aggressive defense," Vigen said. "Very much an attack style. They have a couple guys in (linebackers Jace Lewis and Patrick O'Connell) that are Buck Buchanan watch-list guys and it’s well deserved. (Safety) Robby Hauck is all over the place, I think he’s got 100 plus tackles right now. He is literally all over the place, where he aligns. (Cornerback Justin Ford) has all those interceptions, I think it’s eight games straight now. They’re finding a way to disrupt, tackle well and then turn people over. Those are the things we’re going to have to contend with.”
The Montana offense is getting back to where they were earlier this season as they return to health.
“I think whether it's been Humphrey or Brown at quarterback, they’ve both been able to run their offense and they’re not so different that their offense has to change a whole lot," Vigen said. "They’ve played a host of young running backs. It seems like they’re getting healthier at that position. I know they’ve got a few different targets at receiver and a tight end emerging. Balanced I think they’d like to be on offense.”
Montana State is doing all they can this week to prepare for the loud environment.
“We’ll pump artificial noise in the stadium and just try to work on our silent cadence and stuff like that. There’s only so much you can do. It’s pretty tough to simulate 20,000 plus fans screaming at you,” said senior offensive lineman Lewis Kidd.
The Cats look for their fifth straight win over the Griz at noon on Saturday in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.